Hospital boss warns lack of city funding could delay massive civic project

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The idea of ​​the City of Ottawa providing $150 million to the $2.8 billion Civic Hospital project sparked questions from some councilors on Tuesday as the hospital’s top executive warned that the refusal financial assistance could delay the construction of a world-class health center for the region.

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Cameron Love, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital, said the city had an obligation to provide funding for a new Civic and he mentioned other Ontario municipalities that have contributed funds to projects. hospitals in their regions.

A $150 million hole in the hospital’s financial plan to pay for a new Civic could put hospital executives back at square one trying to find funding for the facility, Love told the finance committee. and economic development of the city council.

“It does not compromise the fact that we would get this approval. What it compromises is the timing,” Love said, responding to a question from Coun. Diane Deans.

Other hospital projects in Ontario that have set local contributions would be prioritized over the Civic, he said.

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The committee chaired by Mayor Jim Watson unanimously approved recommendations from city staff to assess how the city could find $150 million to help build the hospital. Staff only need council approval on May 11 to start work, which could take more than a year.

Wendy Stephanson, the city’s chief financial officer, said staff would report in the second or third quarter of 2023. They are committed to coming up with creative options that would prevent or limit property tax increases driven by a contribution from the hospital, Stephanson said.

A contribution of $150 million from the municipal government would represent 5.4% of the construction costs of the hospital.

The province is providing $2.1 billion and the hospital expects to receive $50 million through retail revenue from stores on the new campus and other funding. An Ottawa Hospital Foundation campaign led by development mogul Roger Greenberg is aiming for a fundraising goal of $500 million.

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No one questioned the need for a new Civic to replace the aging facility on Carling Avenue, but the project has come under fierce public scrutiny when it comes to the development site of the Central Experimental Farm. The federal government offered the land for the project, rather than side with the National Capital Commission and the agency’s suggestion of Tunney’s Pasture as a hospital site.

Property taxpayers and members of city council elected in the October municipal vote will have to think about how much they are willing to spend to have a new health facility and research center in Ottawa.

Com. Shawn Menard warned Love and Greenberg that people who are unhappy with the location of the hospital at the Experimental Farm may not be willing to donate money to the project. Menard criticized the hospital’s use of part of the experimental farm.

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Com. Riley Brockington wondered why only the city would be affected for local contribution and not other jurisdictions benefiting from the hospital. The Civic is a regional trauma center serving much of Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

“It’s not exclusive to City of Ottawa ratepayers,” Brockington said.

Com. Glen Gower said the city should ensure that all neighborhoods in Ottawa support a municipal contribution to the Civic project.

Gower said residents in his Stittsville neighborhood would be more likely to fund the Queensway Carleton Hospital or smaller community hospitals just outside of Ottawa because they believe the Civic is a downtown hospital. The hospital needs to emphasize the Civic’s regional service area, he said.

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A major new installation will have an impact on the surrounding municipal infrastructure and City staff will calculate the costs.

The city is beginning an environmental assessment in 2023 to determine how to connect Dow’s Lake station on the Trillium Line to the hospital campus. The link could be a Carling Avenue bridge or an underpass. The city estimates that a rough estimate for a pedestrian link would be $15 million, but the environmental assessment will have more specifics on the costs.

Com. Jan Harder couldn’t believe there were so many pointed questions from colleagues about what she considered a “benign” report asking staff to consider municipal funding options.

Harder also had a message for anyone still complaining about the site location of the future Civic.

“Move on,” Harder said. “We have advanced.”

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